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Sedation Dentistry

A significant number of Americans do not visit the dentist for regular checkups because they are too fearful or suffer from dental anxiety.  Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free, dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist.

Sedation dentistry is often mistakenly thought to induce sleep.  In fact, most sedatives allow the patient to stay awake during the procedure.  Sleepiness is a side effect of some medications, but nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation and IV sedation only work to calm anxiety throughout the dental visit.

Sedation dentistry is popular because most sedatives can be taken by mouth, meaning no injections, no anxiety and no pain.  Some sedatives work so effectively that even the smells and details of the procedure cannot be recalled afterwards.  Safety and compliance are two important aspects of treatments, so sedation dentistry offers both the individual and the dentist the best alternative.

Whatever the form of sedative, it is essential to be accompanied by a caregiver.  Sometimes, sedatives are provided the night before the dental visit, which means that driving to or from the appointment is not advisable.

Here are some advantages associated with sedation dentistry:

  • Anxiety is alleviated.
  • Few side effects.
  • More can be accomplished during each visit.
  • No needles.
  • No pain.
  • Perfectly safe.
  • Procedures seem to take less time.

What kinds of sedatives are available?

The most popular types of dental sedatives are nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation.  Different levels of sedation (mild, moderate and deep) can be utilized depending on individual needs.  Before administering any sedative, the dentist must analyze the full medical history of the patient, as well as taking note of any current medications.

Here is an overview of some of the most common types of dental sedatives:

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is used as a mild sedative.  It is delivered through a nose hood, and is administered throughout the entire procedure.  Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a general sense of well-being.  Most importantly, it relieves anxiety and reduces pain during the procedure.  In addition, some tingling and numbness may be felt. There are few side effects associated with nitrous oxide, and it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is an excellent choice for people who fear needles.  Oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a moderate state of sedation.  Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses.  This means that most patients cannot remember the pain, smells or noises associated with the procedure.  Usually, a dose of medication is taken prior to the appointment, and then topped up during the procedure as required.

What types of drugs are used in oral conscious sedation?

Most of the drugs used in sedation dentistry are classified as benzodiazepines.  Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia and seizures.  Each medication has a different half-life, meaning that the effects last for varying amounts of time.  The estimated length of the procedure determines which type of drug is going to be most effective.

Here are some of the most common drugs used in oral conscious sedation:

Valium® – This sedative has amnesic properties and a long half-life. It is usually used for time-consuming, complex procedures.

Halcion® – Usually used to treat insomnia, Halcion is an effective sedative with amnesic properties.  A short half-life makes this sedative useful for shorter procedures.

Ativan® – This sedative is best known for reducing anxiety.  It has amnesic properties and a medium half-life.  Ativan is typically used for treatments shorter than two hours.

Versed® – This sedative has the shortest half-life and is therefore less commonly used.  It alleviates anxiety in much the same way as nitrous oxide, and is used for visits that will take less than 30 minutes.

If you have questions or concerns about sedation dentistry, please ask your dentist.

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Testimonials

I would like to take this opportunity to let people who are looking for a great and caring dentist to go to Dr. Reed Spears. I've gone to many dentists in my life and have never met one who is gentle and caring as he's been to me. He has a great team with wonderful personalities and are caring also. In my opinion he's the best there is and I wouldn't ever want anyone else but Dr. Reed Spears and his team. I thought a lot of Sandra, Kim and everyone else on his team. I actually look forward to my visits.

Mardi Newton Creedmoor, NC

"They have state of the art equipment and a nice view of the cow pasture. Dr. Bart is great with kids and adults. He is truly a painless dentist!"

Anonymous

Hi,

I am a new patient of Bart Cleary's and his staff.

I had lots of negelected dental work that needed to be taken care of . Many of which had to be cosmetically restored. It has only been about 4 months since we have started the work on my teeth and they look and feel so much better. Bart Cleary and his staff do very good work ! They not only do good work but are painless and very pleasant to work with. I had to have a root canal on one of my front teeth,.... thinking I was going to hurt so much after wards ( You know the horror stories you hear about root canals), After the root canal I went back to work having no pain during or after the procedure.

Good people with great personalities ! They definitely have what it takes to run a great dentist office that makes you feel welcome ! Thanks for all you have done ! Looking foreward to my next visit !

Tina Tarlton Smith, a very satisfied new patient Oxford, NC

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